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Emission standards are the legal requirements governing air pollutants released into the atmosphere. Emission standards set quantitative limits on the permissible amount of specific air pollutants that may be released from specific sources over specific timeframes. They are generally designed to achieve air quality standards and to protect human health.
Many emissions standards focus on regulating pollutants released by automobiles (motor cars) and other powered vehicles. Others regulate emissions from industry, power plants, small equipment such as lawn mowers and diesel generators, and other sources of air pollution.
Vehicle emission performance standard
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An emission performance standard is a limit that sets thresholds above which a different type of emission control technology might be needed. While emission performance standards have been used to dictate limits for conventional pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur (NOx and SOx), this regulatory technique may be used to regulate greenhouse gasses, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). In the US, this is given in pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour (lbs. CO2/MWhr), and kilograms CO2/MWhr elsewhere.
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In Canada, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) transfers the legislative authority for regulating emissions from on-road vehicles and engines to Environment Canada from Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The Regulations align emission standards with the U.S. federal standards and apply to light-duty vehicles (e.g., passenger cars), light-duty trucks (e.g., vans, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles), heavy-duty vehicles (e.g., trucks and buses), heavy-duty engines and motorcycles.
United States of America
In the United States, emissions standards are managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under federal law, the state of California is allowed to promulgate more stringent vehicle emissions standards (subject to EPA approval), and other states may choose to follow either the national or California standards. California had produced air quality standards prior to EPA, with severe air quality problems in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. LA is the country's second-largest city, and relies much more heavily on automobiles and has less favorable meteorological conditions than the largest and third-largest cities (New York and Chicago).
California's emissions standards are set by the California Air Resources Board, known locally by its acronym "CARB". By mid-2009, 16 other states had adopted CARB rules; given the size of the California market plus these other states, many manufacturers choose to build to the CARB standard when selling in all 50 states. CARB's policies have also influenced EU emissions standards.
California is attempting to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, but faces a court challenge from the federal government. The states are also attempting to compel the federal EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which as of 2007 it has declined to do. On May 19, 2009 news reports indicate that the Federal EPA will largely adopt California's standards on greenhouse gas emissions.
California and several other western states have passed bills requiring performance-based regulation of greenhouse gases from electricity generation.
The California ARB standard for light vehicle emissions is a regulation of equipment first, with verification of emissions second. The property owner of the vehicle is not permitted to modify, improve, or innovate solutions in order to pass a true emissions only standard set for their vehicle. Therefore, California's attempt at regulation of emissions is a regulation of equipment not of air quality. This form of regulation prevents most grassroots type creative individuals from participating in the math science and engineering that could lead to breakthroughs in this area of research. They are wholly excluded from modifying their property in any way that has not been extensively researched and approved by CARB. This could be entirely prevented by regulating and testing emissions only.
The EPA has separate regulations for small engines, such as groundskeeping equipment. The states must also promulgate miscellaneous emissions regulations in order to comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The European Union has its own set of emissions standards that all new vehicles must meet. Currently, standards are set for all road vehicles, trains, barges and 'nonroad mobile machinery' (such as tractors). No standards apply to seagoing ships or airplanes.
EU Regulation No 443/2009 sets an average CO2 emissions target for new passenger cars of 130 grams per kilometre. The target is gradually being phased in between 2012 and 2015. A target of 95 grams per kilometre will apply from 2021.
For light commercial vehicle, an emissions target of 175 g/km applies from 2017, and 147 g/km from 2020, a reduction of 16%.
The EU introduced Euro 4 effective January 1, 2008, Euro 5 effective January 1, 2010 and Euro 6 effective January 1, 2014. These dates had been postponed for two years to give oil refineries the opportunity to modernize their plants.
According to the German federal automotive office 37.3% (15.4 million) cars in Germany (total car population 41.3 million) conform to the Euro 4 standard from Jan 2009.
Due to rapidly expanding wealth and prosperity, the number of coal power plants and cars on China's roads is rapidly growing, creating an ongoing pollution problem. China enacted its first emissions controls on automobiles in 2000, equivalent to Euro I standards. China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) upgraded emission controls again on July 1, 2004 to the Euro II standard. More stringent emission standard, National Standard III, equivalent to Euro III standards, went into effect on July 1, 2007. Plans are for Euro IV standards to take effect in 2010. Beijing introduced the Euro IV standard in advance on January 1, 2008, became the first city in mainland China to adopt this standard.
From Jan 1, 2006, all new passenger cars with spark-ignition engines in Hong Kong must meet either Euro IV petrol standard, Japanese Heisei 17 standard or US EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 standard. For new passenger cars with compression-ignition engines, they must meet US EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 standard.
Bharat stage emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. Progressively stringent norms have been rolled out since then. All new vehicles manufactured after the implementation of the norms have to be compliant with the regulations. As of 2014, the country is under a combination of Euro 3 and Euro 4-based norms. Euro 6 norms are planned to be introduced across the country by the April 1, 2020.
Starting June 10, 1968, the Japanese Government passed the (Japanese: Air Pollution Control Act) which regulated all sources of air pollutants. As a result of the 1968 law, dispute resolutions were passed under the 1970 (Japanese: Air Pollution Dispute Resolution Act). As a result of the 1970 law, in 1973 the first installment of four sets of new emissions standards were introduced. Interim standards were introduced on January 1, 1975 and again for 1976. The final set of standards were introduced for 1978. While the standards were introduced they were not made immediately mandatory, instead tax breaks were offered for cars which passed them. The standards were based on those adopted by the original US Clean Air Act of 1970, but the test cycle included more slow city driving to correctly reflect the Japanese situation. The 1978 limits for mean emissions during a "Hot Start Test" of CO, hydrocarbons, and NOx were 2.1 grams per kilometre (3.38 g/mi) of CO, .25 grams per kilometre (0.40 g/mi) of HC, and .25 grams per kilometre (0.40 g/mi) of NOx respectively. Maximum limits are 2.7 grams per kilometre (4.35 g/mi) of CO, .39 grams per kilometre (0.63 g/mi) of HC, and .48 grams per kilometre (0.77 g/mi) of NOx. The "10 - 15 Mode Hot Cycle" test, used to determine individual fuel economy ratings and emissions observed from the vehicle being tested, use a specific testing regime.
In 1992, to cope with NOx pollution problems from existing vehicle fleets in highly populated metropolitan areas, the Ministry of the Environment adopted the “(Japanese: Law Concerning Special Measures to Reduce the Total Amount of Nitrogen Oxides Emitted from Motor Vehicles in Specified Areas)”, called in short The Motor Vehicle NOx Law. The regulation designated a total of 196 communities in the Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures as areas with significant air pollution due to nitrogen oxides emitted from motor vehicles. Under the Law, several measures had to be taken to control NOx from in-use vehicles, including enforcing emission standards for specified vehicle categories.
The regulation was amended in June 2001 to tighten the existing NOx requirements and to add PM control provisions. The amended rule is called the “Law Concerning Special Measures to Reduce the Total Amount of Nitrogen Oxides and Particulate Matter Emitted from Motor Vehicles in Specified Areas”, or in short the Automotive NOx and PM Law.
- Emission Standards
The NOx and PM Law introduces emission standards for specified categories of in-use highway vehicles including commercial goods (cargo) vehicles such as trucks and vans, buses, and special purpose motor vehicles, irrespective of the fuel type. The regulation also applies to diesel powered passenger cars (but not to gasoline cars).
In-use vehicles in the specified categories must meet 1997/98 emission standards for the respective new vehicle type (in the case of heavy duty engines NOx = 4.5 g/kWh, PM = 0.25 g/kWh). In other words, the 1997/98 new vehicle standards are retroactively applied to older vehicles already on the road. Vehicle owners have two methods to comply:
- Replace old vehicles with newer, cleaner models
- Retrofit old vehicles with approved NOx and PM control devices
Vehicles have a grace period, between 8 and 12 years from the initial registration, to comply. The grace period depends on the vehicle type, as follows:
- Light commercial vehicles (GVW ≤ 2500 kg): 8 years
- Heavy commercial vehicles (GVW > 2500 kg): 9 years
- Micro buses (11-29 seats): 10 years
- Large buses (≥ 30 seats): 12 years
- Special vehicles (based on a cargo truck or bus): 10 years
- Diesel passenger cars: 9 years
Furthermore, the regulation allows fulfillment of its requirements to be postponed by an additional 0.5-2.5 years, depending on the age of the vehicle. This delay was introduced in part to harmonize the NOx and PM Law with the Tokyo diesel retrofit program.
The NOx and PM Law is enforced in connection with Japanese vehicle inspection program, where non-complying vehicles cannot undergo the inspection in the designated areas. This, in turn, may trigger an injunction on the vehicle operation under the Road Transport Vehicle Law.
Since January 2012 vehicles which do not comply with Euro 6 emission values are not allowed to be imported to Israel.
South Africa’s first clean fuels programme was implemented in 2006 with the banning of lead from petrol and the reduction of sulphur levels in diesel from 3 000 parts per million (ppm) to 500ppm, along with a niche grade of 50ppm.
The Clean Fuels 2 standard, expected to begin in 2017, includes the reduction of sulphur to 10ppm; the lowering of benzene from 5 percent to 1 percent of volume; the reduction of aromatics from 50 percent to 35 percent of volume; and the specification of olefins at 18 percent of volume.
- Air pollution
- C. Arden Pope
- Carbon dioxide equivalent
- The Center for Clean Air Policy (in the US)
- Emission factor
- Emission test cycle
- Emissions trading
- Environmental standard
- European emission standards
- Flexible-fuel vehicle
- Fuel efficiency
- Mobile Emission Reduction Credit (MERC)
- Motor vehicle emissions
- National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
- Ultra-low-sulfur diesel
- Vehicle emissions control
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- Emission Test Cycles: Japanese 10-15 Mode
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- Dieselnet pages on vehicle emission standards.
- EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory.
- PDF (141 KB) for heavy duty and nonroad engines.
- Federal Income Tax Credits for Hybrids placed in service.
- Automotive Technology and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 Through 2008